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Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins Leads Meeting Focused on Needs of Veterans in Southwest Virginia

(Abingdon) Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins chaired a meeting of the Southwest Virginia Veterans Coalition (SVVC) on April 12 at the Government Center in Abingdon to address issues affecting quality of life for military veterans living in Southwest Virginia.

The Coalition was formed by Secretary Hopkins and regional leaders to promote regional collaboration on issues affecting veterans in the Southwest area of the Commonwealth. The SVVC is composed of representatives from a broad spectrum of local, state, and federal agencies as well as elected officials, veterans service organizations and nonprofits.

“This meeting gave all of us the opportunity to hear directly from leaders in Southwest Virginia regarding their unique and specific needs and brought together stakeholders who could contribute resources to the discussions,” said Secretary Hopkins.

The meeting agenda included a discussion on veteran transportation and access led by Robb Alpaugh, President and CEO of Angel Wings for Veterans. Angel Wings for Veterans is a national nonprofit organization that provides wounded, ill and injured veterans, and active duty service members and their families with free travel to clinical care via ground and air by providing gas cards; bus, train, and commercial airline tickets; and general aviation flights. The mission of the organization is to ensure that no veteran is denied needed clinical care because of lack of transportation.

Leanna Craig, West Region Director of the Virginia Department of Veteran Services’ Virginia Veteran and Family Support Program (VVFS) shared an update on telehealth services offered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  She noted that VA Telehealth Services utilize health informatics, disease management and other technologies to target care and case management with the goal of improving access to care and the overall health of veterans.  Craig said that the aim of VA Telehealth Services is to make the veteran’s home the preferred place of care whenever possible.

Ken Wiseman, State Commander, State Adjutant and Assistant State Service Officer of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Virginia spoke about Project ATLAS, a VA program that uses local VFW posts to host Telehealth appointments. Evan Feinman, Governor Northam’s Chief Broadband Advisor, presented information regarding strategies underway to better employ technology to reach and serve the veteran community in rural areas of the state through expanded broadband access.

Secretary Hopkins was pleased with the participation at the Coalition meeting and noted, “We want to assure that every veteran in every corner of the State is aware of the Commonwealth’s ongoing efforts to offer the highest quality of life for our veterans and their families. Meetings such as this are an integral part of these efforts and our mission to make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in America.”

About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services

The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia.  DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans.  Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It also oversees the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.